My blog is weird

You guys see a very different side to me in comparison to what many people in my life see. My closest friends know that I am pretty…erm…odd, but my work colleagues and casual acquaintances see “professional Jane.”

Professional Jane likes pencil skirts and blazers. She eats rye crackers and discusses politics with men in suits. She analyses exam results and collates them in the form of pie charts. She attends meetings with colleagues and has an actual clipboard. Sometimes, she ties her hair up with a pencil. Yes, professional Jane is a straight-laced, no-nonsense nine to fiver.

Then there’s “crazy Jane”. Crazy Jane tries to teach her cat how to curtsy (she *almost* has it). She has an inexplicable fear of foam and waltzes with herself. She likes to not stalk her neighbours with binoculars and pretend she’s a French mime artist. She also loves wrestling and tequila (in that order). Sometimes, she likes to drive slowly beside random joggers she’s never met while playing Eye of the Tiger. She also likes to frequent karaoke bars where she can rap California Love in its entirety.

So yes, I’m weird. But I’m not always weird. I could come on here and be normal but then you guys wouldn’t be (hopefully) laughing at with me.

In case you guys are wondering, crazy Jane mostly lives in a cage while professional Jane is at work. I let her out in the evening, where she likes to dance to Abba and blog. Crazy Jane sure loves to blog. She also loves talking to all her fellow weirdos and sending them virtual cake. She is uncomfortable with referring to herself in the third person so she’s going to stop now and knit some tea cosies even though she doesn’t have a tea pot. Sinister.

This post is more all over the place than 2007 Britney

My poor blog. Seriously. It is so neglected that if it were a person, it would be wearing a burlap sack and banging a tin cup against the bars of the prison I keep it in. Thankfully, it’s not a person. But I must admit, I’ve been less than diligent with my posting. 

Last time I wrote, I discussed my issues with anxiety. While I am feeling a lot better, it is a daily struggle. The medication helps significantly, but I’m frequently exhausted beyond belief. I also suffer from vestibular migraines, which my anxiety medication actually treats. So yay, I guess? All in all, I’m not doing too badly. 

As some of you may know, I’m a secondary school teacher (I teach English and history and a smattering of other things). I’ve just been working part time and am now on school holidays, although I will be acting as a scribe for a student who is unable to write her exams. I actually love doing it. 

I’m still living in my little cottage with my two cats, two dogs and lovely boyfriend. J is working full-time as well as completing his PhD. He is a little unwell at the moment and that’s been another cause for concern. Please send him good thoughts! 

Just reading over this, it all seems a little subdued. I’m actually in a very good place. For me, having a sense of humour has been key to getting through the last year. It wasn’t always easy, but I really do believe the old cliche: laughter is the best medicine. My friends have been amazing in helping me. We just laugh constantly (I mean, we breathe sometimes too) and it helps me no end. 

I recently turned thirty (as I’ve mentioned about a million times!) and instead of the anticipated freak-out, I’m actually really at peace with it all. Really. Ahem. Honestly though, I’m still a silly, slightly crazy, giggling pile of incompetence and that’s okay. I’m really learning to be okay with who I am, and who I am not. 

So, in conclusion, here’s what I did last month instead of correcting exam scripts… because necessary. 

Follow Gatsby on Instagram purrrlease

Geddit??

As per my post yesterday, I am now the proud owner of an exquisite ragdoll cat that I have named Gatsby. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the breed, they are basically the puppy of the cat world. He is super friendly, cuddly and docile. He happily follows me around the house, carries toys in his mouth and even plays fetch!

I’ve set up an Instagram account for him, where you can follow all his antics. Gatsby will even follow you back 😄 

Here’s the link: 

Gatsby on Instagram
Thanks everyone and have a lovely Sunday 😘 

Why I am Not Proud to be Irish Today 

Today, March 17, is St. Patrick’s Day; a day where Irish culture and heritage is celebrated in countries all around the world. Here in Ireland, we use it as a day to celebrate and explore our own relationship with our country. We partake in parades and wear shamrocks, a traditional symbol of Irish-ness and our relationship with Saint Patrick. We drink excessive amounts of alcohol, celebrate into the wee hours of the morning with our friends and regret our over-indulgence the following day. In recent years, I have found myself dancing in bars adorned with tricolour flags to traditional Irish music and drinking bad Guinness. But not this year. This year I don’t feel like celebrating. I don’t feel like drunkenly acquiescing with strangers that we do indeed have “a grand little country”. This year, when I think of our history and our relationship with Christianity (which, in essence, is what Saint Patrick’s is at least supposed to be about), I don’t feel a surging sense of pride. 
I feel shame and disgust. 

Our country has had a tortured and somewhat masochistic relationship with Catholicism. In the twentieth century, this relationship with the Catholic Church seemed to be at its zenith. Our most famous Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and later president, Éamon de Valera enshrined the ‘special position’ of the Catholic Church in our country’s constitution. In 1932, the 31st International Eucharistic Congress of the Catholic Church was held in Dublin and attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators. It is estimated that 25% of the country’s population attended a mass held in Dublin that day. This was truly the apex of the Church’s influence over both culture and politics. Church doctrine seeped its way into all aspects of Irish life. Our schools and hospitals maintained their intrinsic link with the Church. The twentieth century was when the marriage between church and state was really cemented. 

This influence wasn’t just evident in the political sphere, however. The people of Ireland aimed to live their lives according to what they were taught at school and mass by nuns, brothers and priests. An odious sense of piety and sanctimony permeated many societal groups. Sexuality morality among all people was something that bishops and nuns obsessed over. There was, as our current Taoiseach Enda Kenny notes, ‘a morbid fascination with respectability.’ 

Contraception was illegal in Ireland between 1935 and 1980 and families, despite widespread poverty, grew large in keeping with traditional Catholic teachings. Sex outside marriage was considered inherently sinful, however. Of course, it still happened and with contraception not being widely available, many women found themselves in the worst possible situation in a repressive, judgemental and unforgiving society. These women were treated as little better than criminals; shunned by their communities and often sent to Magdalene asylums and so-called “mother and baby homes”. Here, they gave birth to their babies, who were subsequently taken away from them, and often never seen again. In the Magdalene asylums, women were worked like virtual slaves to atone for their grievous sins. 

One such mother and baby home was established in Tuam, County Galway by the Bons Secours religious order. Here, unmarried mothers gave birth to their babies, who were then taken from them and raised in a separate part of the Home by the nuns. The children were often later given up for adoption, and often without the consent of their mothers. For their part, the mothers remained in the Home for a year, working unpaid hours to reimburse the nuns for their “services”. 

Tragically, that isn’t the most infuriating or heartbreaking part of the Home’s sadistic history. It was well-known in the local community that there was an undisclosed number of foetal remains close to the site of The Home, which had been abolished in 1972. It was unclear to many, however, just what a gut-wrenching and shameful story lay behind these remains. Thanks to the tireless work of local historian Catherine Corless, however, the story is public. And now, it cannot be silenced. 

Corless discovered that throughout the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s that 796 babies and young children died at the Home.

796

Although infant mortality rates nationwide were indeed higher in the mid-twentieth century than they are today, this number is still considered abnormally high. The infants’ death certificates stated various medical reasons for their deaths, including tuberculosis, measles, whooping cough and influenza. One thing is evident: these children were not treated like human beings. They were treated as they were perceived: as a remnant of their mother’s sin and sexual immorality. And for that, they were punished. 

The nuns left these children in unmarked mass graves. The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes recently found that the remains were discovered in structure that seems to be “related to the treatment/containment of sewerage  and/or wastewater.” These babies were left to rot in a mass grave, buried without dignity or humanity. 

So today, I don’t celebrate. I don’t feel an overwhelming sense of pride in my nationality. I feel a measure of pride in the sense that justice is finally being sought for these babies, who were never before given a voice. I feel proud of the inimitable Catherine Corless, the woman who never gave up fighting for the defenceless. But I don’t feel proud of my country’s insidious past. I won’t wave a tricolour or drink a pint because I don’t feel like it. I am frankly too disillusioned, too ashamed and too heartbroken. Instead, I will think of the 796 babies lying in the cold ground in County Galway. Babies like Anne Heneghen, who died in 1954 aged 3 months. Or Dermot Gavin who died in 1956, aged 2 weeks. Or Baby Lyons, who died in 1949, aged 5 days. Or Kathleen Murray who died in 1947 aged 3 years. I could go on, but it would take some time. I ask that those of you who read this to please look at this full list of their names. They were invisible while they lived, forgotten and neglected by a society that deemed them an inconvenient truth. 

We cannot and will not ignore them now. 

Anxiety and Me 

Hi everyone! 

Well, it’s been a while. As usual. It’s been a little crazy for me lately…well crazier than usual, anyway. 

So back in December I was diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder and put on Zoloft (and xanax to help me sleep). I have been through some rough patches in my life but I have never, ever felt so low. I thought I knew what anxiety was but nope, not until it hit me full force in the face like a wet fish. 

I had to take time off work. I felt alone and helpless. It led to huge strains with my family and with my boyfriend. I never knew what it would feel like to not want to get out of bed, nevermind leave the house. I never knew just how miserable a person could feel; how panicked and how vulnerable. 

The road to recovery will be long and difficult. Maybe I will never fully recover, but I can learn to live with this. I certainly am feeling much better and am able to do many more things now than I could have last month. My boyfriend has been wonderful, my family has been supportive and I’ve had a close friend be there when I needed her. She was also diagnosed with a GAD and we’ve been able to support each other. I think I’ve taken her for granted in the past. It’s only when you hit rock bottom that you really appreciate the genuine friends who don’t hesitate to make you a priority. I hope she feels the same about my friendship. 

The past few weeks have been much better. The first of the month was the one year anniversary of my aunt’s death from cancer. I spent the day with my family and just knowing how close our bond is made me feel really special. So too did the numerous messages from close friends and colleagues who remembered her anniversary. It really was as good a feeling as any pill. Sometimes people really surprise me with how thoughtful they can be. 

So guys, I’m doing well. Really well, in fact. I’m working part-time again and I love my job. I’m taking much better care of my health by exercising and eating well. I’m writing a lot and learning to love my own company. I’m laughing again and playing with my nieces and nephew. I’m running through fields with my dogs (LOL at that mental image) and bopping my cat on the head with her toys. All in all, life is good right now. There will be a time when I’ll struggle again, but I’ll be okay. I will always end up okay.

Who wouldn’t be when they’ve got unicorn slippers? I repeat, UNICORN SLIPPERS 🦄🦄


I hope all of you have been doing well, and if not then feel free to tell me about it. It’s always good to talk, right? Now let’s all have tea and freak out over how adorable my slippers are. 

Makes Sense 

I feel happy. And pretty carefree. Probably because I just had tea and a biscuit which usually results in a sugar-induced euphoria. Anyways, I hope you guys are having a wonderful Monday (I’m sure it’s possible) and I’m going to spin in a circle with my hand extended so everyone gets a high-five. Here’s my thought of the day: 

When the plan goes to pot

My life plan was pretty generic: get married by thirty, have some kids, secure a good job, buy a house, avoid violently murdering someone in the supermarket just because they skipped the queue…you know, standard stuff. Somewhere along the way, the plan went to s**t. I woke up one morning, at the ripe old age of twenty nine and realised I had done none of those things. 
                                                      

I know what you’re thinking: what kind of uptight loser has a life plan? So, okay, firstly, it wasn’t exactly a plan. More of a… life map. Wait, wait… that’s worse, isn’t it? Basically, I just had some things that I wanted to have achieved or realised before I hit a certain age. It wasn’t like I made exact goals to be achieved by exact dates…I’m not that obsessive *nervous laugh* 

                                                      

My team and I just planning what I’ll eat for brunch tomorrow


I felt that being married with maybe at least one kid and having some kind of steady income by the age of thirty seemed to be a realistic enough goal, right? I imagine a conversation with seventeen year old Jane to be a little something like this: 

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Woah, it’s me!

Current Jane: Yes, yes, you decide to ditch the bleach bottle and thick eyebrows are a thing now, soooo…

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Hey, I’m making it work. If it’s good enough for Gwen Stefani…anyway, how am I? 

Current Jane: You know, cool. Yeah, pretty cool.

Seventeen Year Old Jane: So I’m married then? To Jack right? He’s sooo dreamy.

Current Jane: Erm, no. No, you’re not. You’re engaged though. And he’s dreamy alright…but he does this thing with his nose when he’s sleeping and I swear to GOD itmakesmewannapunchhimsoharrrrd. 

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Eh…not married. Okay…okay…but, you’re… you’re pregnant right? 

Current Jane: Eh, no. That’s last night’s takeaway pizza but thanks for reminding me I’m not a size 8 anymore. Nope. No kid. Nada. Notta one. 

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Okay…okay…that’s not so bad… you own a house though? A house? Right?

Current Jane: Well, I don’t own it in so much as I…rent…it. So yeah, I rent. Still. But you know, it’s cool. I can totally do what I want with the place. I have a pretty bitchin’ collection of owl ornaments and seashells. You like seashells, right? 

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Uh huh. Seashells. Right. Erm, so a job? You…have…a job?

Current Jane: Oh yeah, totally, yeah. I’m a teacher.

Seventeen Year Old Jane: Wow! Really? That’s great. Okay that’s really reassuring. Okay. So you have a permanent teaching job. Woah, for a second there I was kinda freaking out.

Current Jane: Well, you know, permanent in the sense that my contract ends in like…four weeks. Permanent like a bottle of hair dye, amiright? Hello? Past Jane? 

Seventeen Year Old Jane: *hyoerventilating into a brown paper bag* 

So yeah, past Jane probably wouldn’t be too impressed with a snapshot of current Jane’s life. On paper, I guess it looks like I haven’t got much going on. The thing is, Seventeen Year Old Jane didn’t know much about life, and also believed that thirty was, like, really old. She also had very dodgy hair extensions, so I really wouldn’t listen to her anyway. 

                                                                

Seventeen Year Old Me be like “It’s called fashion, look it up, bitches”


I had assumed that I would have life all figured out by now. I also assumed that I would just magically become incredibly wise and responsible , like this guy 

                                                     

Except with marginally better posture and hair…


I never really gave any consideration to the fact that I would actually be the same goddamn person. You know, the person who’s sometimes lazy, sucks at long term planning and likes kids but also likes butternut squash…it doesn’t mean I want to commit to eating it everyday for the next eighteen years. I wasn’t going to suddenly transform into a kale-eating, stepford wife supermom. 

Right now, I am a little directionless. I’ll get married in the next few years. Maybe I’ll even have kids. I’ll probably get a proper contract in a more secure job too. Or, I’ll join the circus, grow a beard and kiss sexually-confused men for five bucks a pop. Whatever happens, I don’t need to obsess over it. Life has a habit of happening even when you’re not thinking about it. 

That’s my wish going into my thirties: (notice my avoidance of the word plan…*aggressive cat hiss*) I won’t necessarily plan. I won’t set unrealistic goals. Then, if I don’t achieve them, I won’t feel like flagellating myself with a spiky whip. My goals will probably be a little more shorterm like “get through at least one episode of Supervet without sobbing uncontrollably” or “maybe don’t secretly eat 95% of Jack’s dinner when he goes to the bathroom”. Obviously, big decisions do take some level of planning. But I think the key thing is is to stop setting the bar so high. I can f**k up. I can make stupid mistakes. I can get married in some cramped registry office and it won’t matter because I’ll get to share my life with someone very special. And you know what, if I’m thirty nine and my life is similar to the way it is now (well, minus the anxiety) I’ll be pretty happy. If it’s completely different, well I’ll probably be pretty happy too. The important thing is, I don’t know. I can’t know. And that’s okay.